LOOKING AHEAD — STORIES TO WATCH

Monday, April 24 — Sunday, April 30
They’re off!
Tired of all the public political wrangling that’s played out over the past several weeks? Too bad, because there’s a lot more ahead. This week will bring intense behind-the-scenes negotiations as runoff candidates lobby the also-rans for endorsements. The toughest talks will occur in the mayor’s race, where it appears that Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu might need every vote he can muster to defeat incumbent Ray Nagin on May 20. Nagin carried 38% of the vote to Landrieu’s 29% on Saturday. The looming question: Where will the votes of the next top vote-getters go? Audubon Institute CEO Ron Forman carried 17% of the vote, followed by lawyers Rob Couhig and Virginia Boulet, with 10% and 2%, respectively, and Rev. Tom Watson with 1%. Stay tuned.
Lawmakers to scrutinize ‘Road Home’
The Louisiana Recovery Authority board will meet Wednesday to consider the Road Home Housing Plan, which is designed to guide the disbursement of federal assistance to owners of damaged homes. A public comment period on the plan ended on April 17.
The plan is the LRA’s response to the devastation caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita as a way to help restore people’s home equity. It also contains a rental reinvestment component to develop affordable rental housing.
The LRA must approve the plan before the Legislature can vote on it. Once it wins Legislative approval, it will go to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for final approval and funding. Information about the plan can be found at www.louisianarebuilds.info.
Take a break at Jazz Fest
Local voters and many visitors will get a chance to forget the cares of the city for a while as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival begins its six-day run this week. The city’s biggest musical celebration is back at the Fair Grounds Race Track, where hundreds of local and international musical “stars” will dish up their music from several stages. The lineup also will include great local food, art and crafts, and the event will reach far and wide via the Internet. MSN will be the exclusive webcast provider of Jazz Fest and will donate all the advertising proceeds to benefit New Orleans Katrina Relief efforts. The webcast is scheduled to include concert performances by globally popular artists such as Jimmy Buffett, Dave Matthews Band, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and Elvis Costello, as well as New Orleans music legends including Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas and Buckwheat Zydeco. Viewers can tune in to the festival coverage at msnvideo.com/jazzfest . Buy tickets online at www.nojazzfest.com .
Zurich Classic tees off Thursday
A big golf tourney will shift locations yet again when the Zurich Classic returns to English Turn Golf & Country Club this week. The PGA event called English Turn home for a number of years before moving in 2005 to the new Tournament Players Club Louisiana course. But hurricane damage to the TPA course forced the event’s return this year. Both courses are located on the West Bank.
The tournament, which runs April 27-30, will feature a $6.2 million purse and will be televised on USA Network (Thursday and Friday rounds) and CBS (Saturday and Sunday). The PGA Tour was the first major sports organization to commit its return to New Orleans for 2006.
For ticket information, see www.zurichgolfclassic.com .
Still ahead: still more on Katrina
The search for culprits in the government’s failed response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster is slowly winding toward a conclusion in Washington. The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee and inspectors general from several agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Small Business Administration, soon will release their critiques of the flawed action. When the reports come out — perhaps as early as this week — they likely will shower blame over several federal agencies for failing to prepare for the storm, and for reacting far too slowly after the hurricane hit land and local levees burst.

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